The BethesdaNow.com team would like to apologize for technical problems many readers encountered today (Thursday).
Due to extraordinarily high traffic on our sister site in Arlington, changes were made to our server that temporarily misdirected traffic intended for BethesdaNow.com. As a result, our email newsletter contained news from Arlington instead of Bethesda.
We regret the problems and will work to make sure they don’t happen again.
This is part one of an interview with Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, who spoke to Bethesda Now about traffic, White Flint development, the Second District police station and a number of other issues in Bethesda and the county. Parts of this interview have been edited for clarity. Read part two of the discussion here, which covered police bargaining rights, attracting younger residents to the county and challenges in transportation funding.
Bethesda Now: What are the most prominent Bethesda-related issues you are seeing right now?
Leggett: The level of congestion and traffic, the increased development that we’re experiencing at NIH, Walter Reed in particular. With the attendant employees parking and the potential intrusion into neighborhoods, those are probably the most prominent things that we will hear and have heard over the last year or so. And with the recent announcement of NIH, as you know, to bring in an additional 3,000 employees, expansion at Walter Reed, at the Uniformed Military Service medical facility there, and with the continued emphasis on parking, reliance on the automobile, I think that’s the number one issue that we’ve had. That has generally been tied to traffic and the amount of parking spaces.
Bethesda Now: It seems to be sort of a balancing act between having those prestigious federal agencies here but putting up with the traffic and impacts on residents they bring.
Leggett: We do want them here and we have in many ways encouraged it. Now, the Walter Reed [expansion] is not something that we necessarily encouraged but we accommodated that. What you have to keep in mind is the following: That often times when you seek economic development there is a trade-off, some balance between accepting a higher level of parking congestion, traffic in exchange that you’re going to receive greater economic input as the result of the employment base, jobs, the additional tax revenues that come with that. And therefore you’re able to look long term, yes you’ve got this level of congestion, but here are some of the positive benefits that come with that.
Residents reported another batch of thefts from vehicles in the most recent MCPD crime summary, released today.
The thefts occurred mostly to unlocked cars throughout residential neighborhoods in Bethesda and Chevy Chase:
Several thefts from vehicles were discovered on Lone Oak Drive in Bethesda on Tuesday, 10/2.
Arrested: Male, age 18, unknown address.
Arrested: Male, age 19, from Takoma Park.
Multiple thefts from vehicles occurred in this beat, all occurring during the overnight hours, primarily from Tuesday, 10/2 to Wednesday, 10/3. All but one event involved entry without any signs of force. Vehicles were searched and cash, clothing, and assorted loose items left inside were taken; although multiple victims reported that nothing was taken. Affected streets included: the 4100 block of Leland Street, 7700 and 7800 blocks of Rocton Avenue, 8400 block of Donneybrook Drive, 3400 block of Woolsey Drive, 3300 block of Shirley Lane, 2600 block of East-West Highway and the 6900 block of Woodside Place.
Two thefts from vehicles occurred in the 4300 block of Lynbrook Drive, Bethesda. One event occurred overnight from Wednesday, 10/3 to Thursday, 10/4; the other in the early morning hours of Friday, 10/5. Neither event involved forced entry. GPS units, cash, and other loose items were taken from glove boxes and trunks.
The rest of the crime summary after the jump.
The Edgemoor Classic 5K has become one of the area’s most popular race events, with runners winding through the tree-lined neighborhood near downtown Bethesda and raising money for Bethesda Elementary School and the Bethesda Library in the process.
This year’s 15th Annual Edgemoor Classic 5K will mark a milestone moment of sorts. The event has raised thousands of dollars for the library and elementary school, both of which border the neighborhood on Arlington Road.
The race is set for Sunday, Nov. 4 at 8:30 a.m. with a start and finish behind the elementary school. Through Oct. 28, the registration fee is $20 for adults and $10 for those age 18 and under. The adult fee then kicks up to $25 through race day.
The Edgemoor Citizens Association, which puts on the 5K, is celebrating the 15th annual race with a special race t-shirt ($15 for adults, $7.50 for kids) with designs from previous Edgemoor Classics.
The Jayna Murray 5K Run/Walk to honor the memory of slain Lululemon employee Jayna Murray was moved from its original date of Nov. 4 to Nov. 11 so it wouldn’t conflict with the Classic, Bethesda Patch reported last month.
To register, visit the race website.
It started with kitchen supply donations before morphing into educational trips to the grocery store, cooking classes and a book of recipes featured in a fundraiser at Chef Tony’s on Wednesday night.
But Sandy Petrone said simply being there has the biggest effect on the 20 teens in the “Bistro Boyz” program at the National Center for Children and Families.
“We’re teaching them to cook, which is part of it as is the budgeting, as is the grocery shopping,” said Petrone, a member of the Junior Women’s Club of Chevy Chase. “More important than that is the fact that these old ladies keep showing up every week and we’re just really there to have fun.”
For more than a year, 18 active volunteers from the Women’s Club have been taking teens from NCCF’s Greentree Adolescent Program grocery shopping on Mondays. On Tuesdays, they go to the Greentree Road campus to cook and eat with the kids, many who come from difficult family backgrounds.
“Last night I got a report that one of the boys said, ‘This is sort of like eating together with a family,'” Petrone said. “A lot of us have grown young men and we cooked with them. Eating and cooking is just really safe and its a way to spend time together. These young men are in our community. We can add so much to the wonderful job NCCF is doing taking care of them.”
The fundraiser on Wednesday focused on the “Pie in the Sky” cookbook, a collection of wide ranging recipes from Bethesda and Chevy Chase residents and chefs.
Proceeds from the book sales will go to fund the Bistro Boyz program. Chef Tony Marciante and artist Jennifer Rutherford, who did the book’s cover painting, were on hand to sign copies.
Chef Tony’s served samples of some of the dishes in the book, a blue binder of almost 200 pages of recipes.
For more information on the book or the Bistro Boyz program, visit the Junior Women’s Club’s website.
UPDATE No. 3 (5:10): County spokeswoman Esther Bowring confirmed the DOT has suspended the meter installation and will consult with the community on a residential permitting system. Bowring said the county did advertise the project and the Council did receive some public comment from residents. She also said the meters were not a revenue tool, they were planned purely to prevent commuters and downtown business-goers from parking for free on residential streets.
UPDATE No. 2 (4:35): It seems the installation of parking meters on Chevy Chase Drive and Offutt Lane has been called off. Connie Neuman emailed us this afternoon with the news that DOT Deputy Director called a Bradley House board member and said the meter installation is off, and DOT will begin the process of residential permitting.
UPDATE (2:10 p.m.): Council President Roger Berliner issued a letter today to Department of Transportation Deputy Director Al Roshdieh, asking DOT to review residents’ suggestion of establishing residential permit parking on Chevy Chase Drive and Offutt Lane instead of parking meters. The PDF of the letter is after the jump.
Tucked into Montgomery County’s fiscal year 2013 parking budget was the creation of 28 parking meters on Chevy Chase Drive, a decision residents there say they didn’t know about until workers began installing the meters this week.
Now, people from a number of condominiums and apartment complexes are outraged the county would place meters in a heavily residential area already short on parking.
“Our neighborhood is getting taken away from us,” said Debrah Shaver, who is on the board of the Bradley House Condominium Association. “They’re going to subsidize their budget off of the people who are living in the neighborhood.”
Chevy Chase Park Condominium resident Connie Neuman said residents were never informed the meters were coming. She sent a letter to Council President Roger Berliner’s office on Wednesday asking the county to reconsider installation of the meters.
“I’ve been living here since 1982 and parking has always been bad,” Neuman said. “But now to put in parking meters is just really obnoxious.”
Just a few days after some Bethesda residents bemoaned safety problems that could come with Capital Bikeshare next year, a local cyclist organization is bringing a safety education course to the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association will hold one of its Confident City Cycling classes at the Rescue Squad (5020 Battery Lane) at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
The three-hour session is designed for riders of all experience levels and will teach basic techniques of safe cycling on city streets. WABA is asking those interested in attending to register on its website. Participants must bring their own bikes, helmets and water and will be required to sign liability waivers.
Background study is strongly recommended before the class, with an online traffic skills tutorial. The class will eventually be split into two groups, a beginner or “Trails” group and an intermediate or “Traffic” group.
The fee is $10 for WABA non-members and $5 for WABA members.
With 29 downcounty Capital Bikeshare stations (and 11 in Bethesda) planned for spring 2013, county officials including County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Councilmembers Nancy Floreen (D-At large) and Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) say they’re aware of the safety issues novice bike riders might face.
Floreen recently asked the State Highway Administration to consider bike lanes and lane markings conducive to cyclists in all its upcoming Montgomery County projects.
In their discussion about Bikeshare on Monday, members of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board and other residents focused on the danger bikers could pose to pedestrians on sidewalks or in crosswalks. Jack Cochrane, a Bethesda resident and bike activist, explained how many drivers don’t know that cyclists are allowed to take up a lane if there are no dedicated bike lanes available.
He suggested the county look at re-marking a number of Bethesda roads, including turning four-lane Arlington Road into three lanes of car traffic with a center turn lane and dedicated bike lane.
In an August report, CountyStat showed eight reported bicycle collisions in downtown Bethesda in 2011.
Flickr photo by bethesdatransit.org
Town of Chevy Chase Announces Public Meeting on Tree Policy — The Town of Chevy Chase is creating a policy to protect its tree canopy. Officials will make a presentation before taking questions at a public meeting set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at Town Hall (4301 Willow Lane). The Town Council will discuss how to move forward with a new policy in its November and December meetings, according to a Town email alert.
MoCo Police Ask State Prosecutor to Investigate County Officials — In the latest salvo over the police effects bargaining referendum, past president of the Fraternal Order of Police Marc Zifcak said the FOP is asking State Prosecutor Emmett C. Davitt to investigate whether county officials illegally used tax dollars to advocate against effects bargaining. The county has started a web site, purchased time on a radio station and placed banners on Ride On buses, among other campaigning methods. [NewsTalk with with Bruce DePuyt/ABC7]
Get Ready For Big Blowdryer on Bethesda Row — When blowout salon Drybar opens Friday on Bethesda Row, expect to see a 13-foot, yellow, operable blowdryer nearby on Bethesda Avenue. The giant blowdryer is part promotion, part art in the Bethesda Row Arts Festival that happens to be taking place this weekend. [Bethesda Patch]
Area Boutique Closes Bethesda Location — Across the street from Drybar, until this week, was designer clothing boutique Urban Chic. The business closed its Bethesda location (7216 Bethesda Lane) on Tuesday, leaving locations in Georgetown and Baltimore. [Bethesda Magazine]
Flickr photo by Bill in DC